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who destroyed him. These essential properties of Deity by no means, we are assured, interfered with the completeness of his humanity; so that he had the body, the soul, the consciousness, of a man; and, in union with these, the infinite mind of God. But in a question of mere words, in which the guidance of ideas is altogether lost, I dare not trust myself to my own language. To disturb the juxta-position of charmed sounds, is to endanger orthodoxy; and, in describing the true doctrine, I therefore present you with a portion of that unexampled congeries of luminous phrases, commonly called the Athanasian Creed. “The Catholic faith is this : that we worship One God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost :... the Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal; and yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. ... So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; and yet they are not three Gods, but one God. .. . So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And, in this Trinity, none is afore or after other; none is greater or less than another: but the whole three persons are co-eternal together and co-equal."
Of the second of these three persons, the second article of the Church of England gives the following account:— .
“The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the
omb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance; so that two nole and perfect natures,—that is to say, the Godhead and
Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to
be divided; whereof is One Christ, very God and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us."
In opposition to this theory, we maintain the Personal Unity of God, and the simplicity of nature in Christ. It is my duty at present to submit these contrasted schemes to the test of Scripture. In order to effect this, I advance these three positions :
(1.) That if the Athanasian doctrine be found in Scripture, then, on our opponents' own principles, Scripture does not contain a revelation from God.
(2.) That if it be really in the Bible, certain definable traces of it there may justly be demanded; and, before opening the record, we should settle what these traces must be.
(3.) That such traces cannot be found in Scripture.
I. “If,” says Bishop Butler, “a supposed revelation contain clear immoralities or contradictions, either of these would prove it false.”* This principle, generally recognized by competent reasoners, has been distinctly admitted in the present discussion; and Dr. Tattershall, in particular, has employed much ingenuity to prove that the doctrine of the Trinity, containing no absurdity or contradiction, involves in no danger the authority of the writings supposed to teach it. But no subtlety can avail to remove the inherent incredibility of this tenet, which even its believers cannot, without uneasiness, distinctly and steadily contemplate. Long usage and Church authority alone prevent men from perceiving that the propositions, announcing it, are either simple contradictions, or statements empty of all meaning. The same remark is applicable to the notion of the two natures in Christ.
Before proceeding to justify this assertion, let me guard myself from the imputation of rejecting this doctrine because it is mysterious ; or of supporting a system which insists on
• Analogy of Religion, part ii. ch. 3.
banishing all mysteries from religion. On any such system I should look with unqualified aversion, as excluding from faith one of its primary elements; as obliterating the distinction between logic and devotion, and tending only to produce an irreverent and narrow-minded dogmatism. “Religion without mystery' is a combination of terms, than which the Athanasian Creed contains nothing more contradictory; and the sentiment of which it is the motto, I take to be a fatal caricature of rationalism, tending to bring all piety into contempt. Until we touch upon the mysterious, we are not in contact with religion ; nor are any objects reverently regarded by us, except such as, from their nature or their vastness, are felt to transcend our comprehension. God, of whose inscrutable immensity creation is but the superficial film ; Christ, the love of whom surpasseth knowledge; futurity, veiled in awful shadows, yet illumined by a point or two of light; these, which are slightly known, and greatly unknown, with something definite, representing a vast indefinite, are the peculiar objects of trust and veneration. And the station which the soul occupies, when its devout affections are awakened, is always this : on the twilight, between immeasurable darkness and refreshing light; on the confines, between the seen and the unseen ; where a little is discerned, and an infinitude concealed; where a few distinct conceptions stand, in confessed inadequacy, as symbols of ineffable realities : and we say, “Lo! these are a part of his ways; but the thunder of his power, who can understand?” And if this be true, the sense of what we do not know is as essential to our religion as the impression of what we do know: the thought of the boundless, the incomprehensible, must blend in our mind with the perception of the clear and true; the little knowledge we have must be clung to, as the margin of an invisible immensity; and all our positive ideas be regarded as the mere noat to show the surface of the infinite deep.
But mystery, thus represented, offers any thing but objects of belief: it presents nothing to be appreciated by the understanding; but a realm of possibilities to be explored by a reverential imagination; and a darkness that may be felt to the centre of the heart. Being, by its very nature, the blank and privative space, offered to our contemplation, nothing affirmative can be derived thence; and to shape into definite words the things indefinite that dwell there, is to forget its character. We can no more delineate any thing within it, than an artist, stationed at midnight on an Alpine precipice, can paint the rayless scene beneath him.
There cannot, however, be a greater abuse of words, than to call the doctrine of the Trinity a mystery; and all the analogies by which it is attempted to give it this appearance, will instantly vanish on near inspection. It does not follow, because a mystery is something which we cannot understand, that every thing unintelligible is a mystery; and we must discriminate between that which is denied admittance to our reason, from its fulness of ideas, and that which is excluded by its emptiness; between a verbal puzzle and a symbolical and finite statement of an infinite truth. If I were to say of a triangle, each of the sides of this figure has an angle opposite to it, yet are there not three angles, but one angle, I should be unable to shelter myself, under the plea of mystery, from the charge of bald absurdity; and the reply would be obviously this : 'never was any thing less mysterious put into words; all your terms are precise and sharp, of definable meaning, and suggestive of nothing beyond: the difficulty is, not in understanding your propositions separately, but in reconciling them together; and this difficulty is so palpable, that either you have affirmed a direct contradiction, or you are playing tricks with words, and using them in a way which, being unknown to me, turns them into mere nonsense.' If to this I should answer, that the contradiction was
only apparent, for that the three and the one were affirmed in different senses; and that it would be very unfair to expect, in so deep a mystery, the word angle to be restrained to its usual signification; I should no doubt be called upon to explain in what novel sense this familiar term was here employed, since, in the interval between the expulsion of the old meaning and the introduction of the new, it is mere worthless vacancy. And if, then, I should confess that the strange meaning was some inscrutable and superhuman idea, which it would be impossible to reach, and presumption to conjecture, I should not be surprised to hear the following rejoinder : 'you are talking of human language as if it were something more than an implement of human thought, and were like the works of nature, full of unfathomable wonders and unsuspected relations; hidden properties of things there doubtless are, but occult meanings of words there cannot be. Words are simply the signs of ideas, the media of exchange, invented to carry on the commerce of minds,—the counters, either stamped with thought, or worthless counterfeits. Nay more, in this monetary system of the intellectual world, there are no coins of precious metal that retain an intrinsic value of their own, when the image and superscription imprinted by the royalty of intelligence are gone; but mere papercurrency, whose whole value is conventional, and dependent on the mental credit of those who issue it: and to urge propositions on my acceptance, with the assurance that they have some invisible and mystic force, is as direct a cheat, as to pay me a debt with a bill palpably marked as of trivial value, but, in the illegible types of your imagination, printed to be worth the wealth of Crosus.
“Verbal mysteries,” then, cannot exist, and the phrase is but a fine name for a contradiction or a riddle. The metaphysics which are invoked to palliate their absurdity, are fundamentally fallacious; and equally vain is it to attempt to press natural science into the service of defence. In the